A 2 Star Review and A 300% Interest Loan

Episode 062

In this week’s episode I share a story about how I handled (or mishandled) a recent 2 star review. We also talk about a patient that was upset because I didn’t do “in house” financing, refused CareCredit, and took out a 300% loan. To say the least, we’ve had some very interesting patients since our last visit. Tune in to find out more on this episode of Business of Dentistry!

More About This Show

Between these two interesting cases, let’s start with the 2-star Google review first, and then second let’s talk about the patient who took out a 300% interest loan for her surgery.

Recently I was finishing my first surgical case of the day and as I was walking back into my office, I heard my cell phone ping with a notification. I had received a Google review. If you’ve listened for awhile now you know I track these reviews consistently and am diligent about them.

I checked the review and saw it was a 2-star review, something that doesn’t happen often. So i looked at it and the person’s name rings a bell: I realize it’s my next patient! It was about 9:40am and the patient was scheduled for 9:30am. She left a two-star review saying the wait was awful and we had miscommunicated what was going on and that we would not work with her on payments.

So I asked one of my front desk staff if the patient was still in the office. My staff member told me the patient was still there, and was waiting while my team prepared a CareCredit application for them. This application was being done so the patient could be approved for their portion of the surgery bill.

I decided I would talk to the patient if she got approved and the surgery went ahead. She was approved, they took the payment and she came back to get started. I walked in and asked how she was doing. I could tell she was angry, but she said she was fine.

I said good, and told her she had made my morning already. She wanted to know how and I went on to explain that she was giving me the chance to convince her to change her 2-star review on Google.

The look on her face and the awkward silence that followed was deafening! I am sure I shouldn’t have done that, but I couldn’t help myself. She had left a two-star review saying my staff wasn’t taking care of her and wasn’t working with her on payments – and they were doing both. They were trying to get her taken care of so she could have her surgery.

We followed up with her and the surgery went well, and we also sent a request for a google review (or upgrade in her case). We got no response to that request.

After a few days went by I decided to respond to her review. I mentioned her “awful wait time” was only 19 minutes from the time she was scheduled for her surgery til the time she left the review. And in that time my staff was working with her to arrange third party financing which was accomplished without issue. I then asked my office manager Paul for feedback and he said it was appropriate so I posted it.

I brought this story up to again illustrate how powerful social media is and why it’s important to follow and track your online presence, and what people are saying about you. And the point is sometimes we can’t please people, even when we try our best.

The second story is about another surgery patient, and illustrates why we don’t do in-house financing. Listen in to today’s episode to hear about the patient’s 300% title loan, and why it’s a reason we only use third party financing like CareCredit. You’ll also hear why we’re going to look into what, if anything, we can do to improve our approach when talking about our patients’ healthcare with them.

And then leave a comment below or email me with your thoughts on negative reviews and in-house financing. Do you address negative reviews, or ignore them? Do you do in-house financing or do you avoid it? I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for listening to this edition of Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Sometimes, even when we try our best, we can’t please everyone.”

Episode Resources

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Dental Jiu Jitsu (Voices of Dentistry)

Episode 061

This week features the replay of a presentation that I recently gave at the Voices of Dentistry. It has some audio glitches in the first two or so minutes but gets better after that…thanks for listening to episode 61 of the Business of Dentistry!

More About This Show

Today’s episode is the audio of a presentation I recently gave at the Voices of Dentistry conference in Nashville. It was an honor and privilege to take the stage in front of my dental colleagues and give this talk. During my presentation I explained how to apply jiu jitsu strategies I’ve learned and how to implement them into your private dental practice.

You’ll also hear me talk about a gentleman in the audience, John. I gave his dental school wrong – he and his colleagues are attending University of Kentucky, not Louisville like I said during this presentation. He was a guest on the show back in episode 59, which you can hear here.

The basic premise of today’s show is to take some of the ideas from the fight world and implement them into our businesses and our practices. I specifically explore three  jiu jitsu strategies and explain how you can translate them into your practice.

1. Maintain situational awareness.
It’s important to know what is going on around you and what is happening in your environment. Keep your ears and eyes open because this will keep you out of trouble, and will keep you from getting into an altercation or a difficult situation.

In this episode I share a story that highlights this. One of the rougher neighborhoods in Nashville was being revitalized and it landed a great new restaurant. The place got good reviews so I made reservations and took my wife there.

After we had finished our meal, we were coming out to our car a few blocks away. There were several guys coming towards us who didn’t look they were going to the restaurant we had just left! So we crossed over to the other side of the street and avoided them, avoiding any potential conflicts.

The same awareness should be applied in your dental practice. You have to think about things like what you would do if corporate dentistry moves into the small town where you practice. What new dental laws are about to go into effect? What new tax codes do you need to be aware of that are impacting your practice’s revenue?

Also you need to apply this in your practice: are your revenues increasing or decreasing? Is your staff getting along or are there any conflicts? What do your patients think of and what is being said about you online and in social media?

These are all examples of situational awareness as it relates to your dental practice.

2. Have a game plan.
What do you want to do with your practice? Do you want to stay as solo operation or do you want to open multiple locations? Your game plan changes based on your goals, but either way you need to have your plan and stick to it.

It’s important to stick to it when new trends come along. When you have a game plan you can evaluate the latest trend, gadget or technology against your plan: will it help you? Or will it take you off track?

For example, if you hate oral surgery, you may decide to hire an associate who excels at it. Or you may decide to refer out or hire someone to come in and do it under your roof. What is your game plan for implants and other types of surgery if you hate doing it yourself?

The main point here is to fight your fight. Don’t let others influence you, stick to your game plan.

3. Manage and monitor your ego.
Third, manage and monitor your ego as needed. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and be open-minded to trying new things. It could be intimidating and scary, but you still have to do it. You may even worry about being embarrassed, that’s okay, just do it anyway.

This is also about knowing when to ask for help, when to hand things off and when to quit. Sometimes we have to ask for help and hand things off like taxes, business law, accounting. These are examples of all things that are better done by experts so be sure to find the right people to help you and then let them help you!

To recap, the three jiu jitsu principles you can apply to your dental practice are situational awareness, have a game plan and stick to it, and manage and monitor your ego. You’ll hear more examples of each of these when you listen in to episode 61 of Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Stick to your fight plan.”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry
Episode 59 of Business of Dentistry
Email me
Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter

New Staff Search Using Dental Post

Episode 060

This week I discuss my search for a new officer manager using DentalPost.net – check out episode 60 of the Business of Dentistry to find out how it’s going…

More About This Show

If you have listened to previous episodes of the show you know my office manager Paul is leaving the practice to move to China. You can hear the full details here if you missed it.

As a result, I’m having to do something I haven’t done in awhile and that is hire a new staff member. Paul and I have been talking about how to do this, how to find applicants and have them apply for his position. Ideally, we’ll be bringing someone on board before he leaves so there can be some training time with Paul and the transition can go smoothly.

Paul reminded me recently that he only has a few weeks left so we should start this process asap. With that in mind, we considered all the possible places to post the ad. I’ve done a lot of things in the past like taking out ads in the local community newspapers, anonymous ads on Craigslist, etc. I’ve even hired people through word of mouth, but most of them haven’t worked out! The staff members I have right now have come through different venues, mainly not word of mouth though.

So as we were thinking of different ways to put out a classified ad for Paul’s position, I came across a resource called DentalPost. DentalPost is a dental employment resource where you can post your job opening, you can search resumes and match yourself with candidates. You can also drill down to see only candidates in your local area.

Last week I posted this job and listed some basic information about the practice and gave the title of the job opening as Front Office Administrator. In under 30 minutes I started getting emails! They were all local, within reasonable driving distance. However, most of these resumes were from dental assistants wanting to get into the oral surgery field. They had some stellar backgrounds but obviously were not going to be a fit for Paul’s position.

I don’t think this was a problem on DentalPost’s end, I think it was a candidate issue. The people applying either didn’t read the ad thoroughly or were simply being proactive in hopes of getting a leg in the door of the practice. So I don’t fault DentalPost for the unqualified candidates we got, I think it is a good system that delivers opportunities to their candidates quickly.

Among those candidates, I did find one potential candidate to interview. Paul is taking some time off so we haven’t had a chance to set that interview up, but we found the candidate through DentalPost so I can say the site does work!

It has also shown me what a huge time suck print ads are because people who aren’t qualified call with questions, they fax in and drop off their resumes. I would not recommend using local print ads and won’t be doing that again! DentalPost avoids all of that hassle, you only receive emails coming to one specific email inbox.

Also, if you use the DentalPost site to list an opening be sure your staff knows because they will know after you post it! Within 24 hours my staff knew a posting had gone up because their friends in the dental industry were calling and texting them about it!

Now I’d love to hear from you – have you used DentalPost? If so, what has been your experience? Leave a comment below or email me. Let me know if there is another service you like too. Thanks for reaching out and thanks for listening to episode 60 of the Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “It’s been a learning experience for me!”

Episode Resources

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Business of Dentistry on Facebook

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Dental School Discussions: Voices of Dentistry Special Edition

Episode 059

Voices of Dentistry Special Edition: This week I had an opportunity to sit down and chat with 3 guys from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. They were kind enough to take time out of their day to get me up to speed on how much dental school has changed since I attended. Listen in to this special 59th edition of Business of Dentistry. Enjoy!

Voices of Dentistry 2017


More About This Show

Today’s episode of the Business of Dentistry podcast is coming to you on location at the Voices of Dentistry conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I recorded this in the podcast lounge at the conference and I’m joined by three attendees: John, Cole and Matthew. All three are in their fourth year of dental school at the University of Kentucky.

I brought these guys on to talk about what dental school is like now (versus when I attended), what their future plans are and the podcast they’re going to be releasing.

My first question to them was how they were introduced to podcasts, how they started listening.

John goes first and says he started listening to podcasts when he got into dental school; he likes the business aspect of the dental shows and he listens primarily for the business side of things. He calls podcasts “free CE”.

Cole was introduced to podcasts by John and he listens for both business and clinical, although more for business.

And finally Matt has been doing a lot of research on his own for the past three years, outside of his schoolwork. In his searching he has found future success is dependent on knowledge of the business side of dentistry and that’s what drew him to podcasts. He believes you have to tie both realms together – the clinical and the business – to really be successful on your own terms as a dentist.

Matt also share they have kept logs of what they’ve been learning on the various shows they listen to and he knows they will be referring to those logs once they’re in practice after graduation.

It was fascinating to hear their answers because they are all so far ahead of where I was when I was in their shoes! It’s excellent they are getting this understanding so early, before they’re even working in the field.

I asked Cole to elaborate about the clinical information he’s listening to on podcasts. He explained he’s hearing how to get patients to accept treatment, how to set up your practice to save time, and how to be as efficient, and effective as possible in your practice. He is also learning to communicate properly with patients while building and running a practice.

Cole goes on to say he merges that information with the business aspect to get the best of both worlds so he can fully utilize it all once he’s out of dental school.

Speaking of graduating from dental school, I asked each of them what their plans are next. John will be working in Cookville, TN. I told him I’m familiar with that town because it is about 30 min down the road from my office.

In Cookville, John will be working for a doctor there who is getting ready to transition out of his practice. It’s at least a two-man practice so John and Matthew will be there together. The plan is for them to buy it after a year and run it together.

It seems inevitable that they would run a practice together after John explains that he Matthew grew up together. They have been friends since they were infants – there’s a picture of John’s mom holding him as a baby and Matthew’s grandmom holding him as a baby at their local church! They were 18 months old in that picture and have been friends as long as they can remember.

Cole’s future post-dental school plan is to do a residency program in St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s an AEGD program and he will be there for a year. He sees himself back in the Kentucky/Tennessee area after, although he doesn’t have a specific spot picked out yet.

Also on today’s show we talk about the differences from my days in dental school to theirs, how early they start seeing patients as students, the bonds we form with our dental school classmates and what their new podcast is about. You’ll hear the details on all of that and so much more on the 59th episode of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “You’ll meet the best friends of your life in dental school.”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry
Email me
Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter

Staff Turnover And Onboarding New Hires

Episode 058

Staff turnover is inevitable and can be distracting to your staff. It can also bring extra stress to you as a business owner. This week, on episode 58 of the Business of Dentistry, we discuss our current staff turnover and my ideas about an on boarding process for new hires.

More About This Show

Recently my office manager, Paul, told me that he was resigning because he had been presented with a great opportunity. While I was excited for him, I was sad for myself. He’s been on our staff for five years and we’ve become friends in that time. We have lunch together every week and talk about business, politics, history, everything under the sun!

But when he shared with me his new opportunity, I understood why he was saying yes to it. His background is in executive roles within hospital administrations. In fact, he set up a hospital in Shanghai, China; he still visits there once or twice a year and has a network there too.

Last year he visited for a few weeks, and during that time he ran into his friends who live there. One of those friends is a doctor Paul has previously worked with. That doctor has been trying to recruit Paul to  be the CEO of the hospital the doctor works for. On his visit, the doctor gave Paul a tour and made him an offer on the spot for the CEO role. Paul turned him down and said I have to talk to my family back home; when Paul got back he was given an even better offer, one he could not turn down.

With his departure on the horizon, I started to think about staff turnover and the onboarding process. I’ve been thinking about what we do in my practice and where we can improve, both topics I wanted to share with you on today’s show.

When a staff member leaves, we don’t have an onboarding process as of now. When Paul gave me his resignation, I decided to let the staff know what was going on and that we would be filling his role. Ideally we would find his replacement before he leaves so we could have a transition period so the new person would work with Paul and get familiar with the role.

I wanted to bring up these topics to share what I do, but also to find out what you do when a staff member leaves. How do you handle it? And how do you onboard your incoming employees?

I don’t currently have an onboarding process, we do it on the fly. With Paul’s departure I’m really focused on changing that and getting a system in place.

If you do have a way you train your new employees, how do you do it? Do you have an office policy manual? Do you have certain ways you train them on your management software? Do you train them on answering the phones, the mission/philosophy/culture of your office?

I now see that I have a really big hole in this part of my practice and I need to fix it. A streamlined training process is something that needs to be done for everyone: front desk, scheduler, insurance billing clerk, office manager, etc.

Even though I don’t have a process in place, I’ve been thinking the new process would start with a basic introduction to all of the staff. Next I would sit down with the employee one on one and explain what my philosophy is and what my expectations are. I think it’s important we do ourselves this as practice owners, and not delegate this part of the training to anyone else.

I would also go over their job description with them as well. Then I would be sure they are trained on our management software, this we delegate to our software company as they have the resources and expertise to do this online.

On today’s show, I also explain why I see these transitions as opportunities to dive into what needs to be improved, as well as what it was like to be thrown to the proverbial wolves as a training experience, and why I won’t do that to my staff! You can hear all of that plus questions to ask your staff while setting up your onboarding process on episode 58 of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “I see transitions as opportunities.”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry
Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter

Associateship Troubles And Hostage Negotiation

Episode 057

In an associateship and having trouble? You are not alone. This week we start off by discussing some of the troubles a young dentist is having in his associateship. We also reveal a resource that will help you bargain like an FBI hostage negotiator. Not that the two topics are related…just saying! Listen in for that and more on episode 57 of the Business of Dentistry.

More About This Show

Even though I don’t have an associate and haven’t had that type of relationship before, many dentists do. So when I recently had a conversation with a dentist who is part of an associateship, and he shared several troubling scenarios he was experiencing, I wanted to share those with you on today’s show.

One of the first difficulties he is encountering is the fact that he had agreed to a low salary because of the incentive productive bonuses he had been promised. He thought he’d do well his beyond base salary because of his productivity; he was promised that the practice was very busy and he’d have no trouble gaining new patients, making production and hitting those bonus numbers. So he took the low base salary with the intention of achieving those numbers and making up the difference in bonuses, something I completely understand.

However he’s not doing anything, he’s sitting on his hands and not being as productive as he was told he could be. There aren’t many new patients coming in and the few emergencies that pop up are immediately taken by the senior dentist.

When the associate does get to see an emergency, they have all wanted to continue on as his patients. When they call back they want to see him because they like his communication skills, his chairside manner, and his rapport – which has resulted in the senior doc taking on even more of the emergencies because he is upset that these patients are requesting the associate.

Another challenge this associate is having is the senior doc shifting patients over from the associate’s schedule to the senior doc’s schedule because the senior doc is slower. To boot, there has been no communication about the shift and the associate doesn’t know this is happening ahead of time.

To complicate matters further, the senior doc told the associate that he wanted to expand the practice to doing implants. It wasn’t something the senior doc did himself but the associate wanted to. The associate has had some experience with implants in school, and he was eager to expand his skills and techniques in that area.

So the associate was allowed to do this but was never compensated for it, the associate paid for it himself. He later discovered the senior doc had signed up for the same course and now wanted to do implants too. The associate and the senior doc did the continuum on implants and the senior doc is now generating implant business. However the senior doc is blocking off the associate’s schedule to help the senior doc do the implants, and not allowing the associate to do the procedures on his own.

When he told me all of this, I asked this associate if he signed a non-compete and he said he did. Because there are all sorts of clauses  and differing laws from state to state regarding non-competes, I suggested he seek a lawyer’s help with the matter. I hope he does and he and his senior doc can work things out so all sides benefit from their arrangement.

Another topic I share with you on today’s show is about how I’m cutting my overhead. This is my year of doing so and on this episode I explain how I’ve cut down a few points by going through my credit cards line by line – and why I suggest you do the same.

Also on this show, as promised, I tell you about a negotiating resource I discovered recently and have found useful. Tune in to hear about all of that and more on episode 57 of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “There are two sides to every story.”

Episode Resources

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini
Never Split The Difference, by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
Voices of Dentistry

Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter

Revisiting Success And Failure At The New Year

Episode 056

Happy New Year! Today’s show is a special holiday edition centered around the success and failures of the outgoing year. On episode 56 of the Business of Dentistry, I share my top 5 successes and failures and ask some questions on where you are with your practice going into the new year.

More About This Show

Recently I’ve been reflecting on my successes and failures that have happened in my practice in the last year and I wanted to share the top five of each with you on today’s show. I’m highlighting each of these successes and failures to help motivate you to look at your business and assess it in  the same way.

It’s important to ask yourself what your biggest successes and your biggest failures were in the past year. Take time to think about what you will do differently for 2017, if anything, and to write down a plan that you share with your staff.

When I took the time to do all of that – to think about my biggest wins and my biggest misses – here are the top five things I came up with.

1. More profitable.
Overall my practice had a 3% increase in profit. We spent less money, lowered our overhead and expenses, and the team worked less hours (including me). And we did all of this without decreasing staff compensation. We worked harder, not smarter!

Do you know if you were profitable last year? Do you know how much more or less you made in 2016 than previous years? It’s important to track those numbers and find out so you know if your business is growing, or not.

2. Improved online reputation.
We’ve talked about Google reviews in previous shows. If you listened to those shows you know that in April of this year I set a goal of having 100 Google reviews by December 31st.

We not only met that goal but we exceeded it! By December 31st we had 125 Google reviews.

Do you know what people are saying about you online? do you have a way to get your patients’ feedback, do you have a system to get reviews? do you do any of this? it’s something to think about for 2017

3. I took 5 weeks of vacation.
I used to take no personal vacation, aside from my naval reserve training, so this was a big success for me! I am glad I took 5 weeks off this year. A lot of it was a day here and there for kids’ school activities but we also took a week to go to the beach as a family and have a proper vacation together.

What about you – did you take any vacations? Do you have any scheduled for 2017? What are you aiming to do with your vacation time this year?

4. I was timely in completing paperwork.
Rather than procrastinate like I have in the past, I completed dictations, charts, patient records, and the like in a timely fashion. In 2016, I procrastinated less and made it easier for my staff  to do what they needed to do. I didn’t have to bring it home either!

All of this type of paperwork and administrative work can be extra stressful if you don’t complete it in a timely manner, so I made a point to do it promptly this year. As a result, it was easier for my staff too. My focus was to complete records before the end of every work day and I did so by creating a color-coded system on my schedule and designated one area of my office for paperwork that needed my attention.

Do you have a system to take care of paperwork? Do you keep up with the administrative work you need to do or do you procrastinate like I did in the past? If not, maybe now is the time to do so.

5. I was better at delegating.
In 2016 I was much better at delegating and letting my team handle things, especially things like supplies and paperwork. I let them handle all of the supply details, my only tasks were to make sure we were staying close to our monthly budget and to make sure we had what we needed for day to day surgery cases.

Another area I delegated more was patient documentation. I was better at doing this in 2016 because I delegated a lot of it to my staff! I just reviewed the documentation, edited it and signed it. If something was missing I held the staff accountable and told them what needed to be done with the documentation, rather than doing it myself like I would’ve in the past.

And I delegated issues to my team leaders: my office manager, my clinical team lead and my administrative team lead. I would talk to them about any staff issues and then let them come up with a solution and fix it.

Also on episode 56, I discuss my top five failures in 2016 including my procrastination on staff evaluations, my delayed responses to my top referring doctors and getting too caught up in sales pitches! Tune in to hear the rest and then let me know what were your biggest successes and failures in 2016.

Tweetable: “What were your biggest successes and your biggest failures?”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry
Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter

Case Video Conferences Using Zoom

Episode 054

After a two week hiatus I am back with another episode. This week I introduce a couple of new resources that show promise within the office. Listen in and find out how Zoom might be helpful to you on episode 54 of Business of Dentistry.

More About This Show

The first new resource I wanted to share with you is Zoom. Recently, one of my orthodontic friends and I had a complex treatment plan we were working on together for a mutual patient. He wanted to look at some of the CT scans of the patient’s teeth so we were sharing discs of the scans back and forth.

It turns out he wasn’t comfortable manipulating the software to look at the scans to see what he needed to see, so one of his associates contacted me for help. She asked if they could come by and if I would show them how to use the software, how to look at the images, etc.

By the time we could meet for lunch, she was out on maternity leave. Rather than have him drive 20 minutes each way, I decided to try video conferencing with him, and that is how I found Zoom.

I’m sharing it with you because Zoom was simple to use. I sent him a link, he clicked on it and joined me from his office. I shared my screen with him and we looked at the CT scans he had questions about as well as the images he sent me. It really felt like we were in the same room together!

Even though I’m a techie person, I’ve always been a bit intimidated by live video conferencing and webinars, that type of thing. But he’s a friend so I knew he wouldn’t mind if we had some roadblocks on our first try, happily we didn’t!

There are other paid options, but I tried the free plan at Zoom.us. I think this is a good solution if you have a multi-specialty complex case; you could use Zoom to drive the conference and share the images, the photographs, models through your webcams, etc. This is a great way for us to communicate better, the technology is readily available!

The other technological resource I’ve recently found is Rev.com. Rev.com is a recorder that allows you to do recordings on your phone, your desktop, or iPad/tablet.

I’ve used it for an educational site I have about wisdom teeth called I Need My Wisdom Teeth Out. To create the content for the web site I used Rev.com. I would dictate into my phone the different segments of the site, save each one and send them to Rev.com.

It costs $1 per minute and they turn around the transcription very quickly, they typically sent my segments back to me within 24 hours.

Most of my segments for the web site were under 20 minutes so I would record them while driving to work after dropping off my kids at their school. It didn’t take long before I had the content created, and now I have an audio version and a text version of each area of the web site.

If you are like me and you speak faster than you can write then you could use it for content creation or for journaling or your office notes; it has a lot of different uses!

Now that I’ve shared my recent finds, I’d love to hear if you have different resources or ideas, too. I wanted to share these with you and get your thoughts: have you used either of these tools? If you did, what did you use them for and did they work well for you?

Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on Zoom and Rev.com, and I appreciate you taking time out of your busy life to be here to listen to the show!


Tweetable: “There is no reason for us not to communicate better.”

Episode Resources

I Need My Wisdom Teeth Out web site
Voices of Dentistry

Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter

Managing Staff Vacations

Episode 053

Do you allow your staff to work when you are on vacation? How much vacation do you give your staff? Paid holidays? Check out this week’s episode of the Business of Dentistry to hear my take on these topics and more.

More About This Show

This episode was recorded while I was completing my reserve drill weekend from the Naval Station Great Lakes in Great Lakes, Illinois. Because I was on leave and out of the office, it raised the topic for today’s show: staff vacation.

In the past, I’ve kept the office open when I was out. I didn’t make my staff take a vacation when I did, but now I do. I wanted to talk about this so you can understand why I’ve changed my policies, and you can take a look at your own staff vacation procedure.

As part of the expense of staffing, paying out vacation makes a pretty big impact on our bottom line.  Personally, I give 6 paid holidays a year. If someone has been on staff for under 3 years, they also get two weeks paid vacation after their first six months. For employees who have been in the practice for over three years, they get three weeks (or 15 business days).

I do that to give more to the folks who are loyal. And I don’t take more than three weeks myself so I don’t offer more than that for my staff.

Today I go down to a skeleton crew when I am out: I have one front office person and one clinical person who stay in the office. I do that so if someone has an insurance or scheduling schedule question there is someone in the office who can do help them. And if someone has a clinical question or needs a post-op there is also someone in the office to address those needs (although it’s pretty rare that this happens).

So I keep two people in the office when I’m not there. The rest of the staff can use their paid vacation days on those days when I am out, or they can take unpaid leave. It’s gone over pretty well, for the most part.

The biggest difficulty I have had is planning my vacations and my time off. I’m not great at planning out too far in advance. I’m a vacation martyr and am not always good about taking time off! However my staff is now prompting me: they want to know when I will be out of the office so they can plan their vacation days and/or unpaid leave around my dates.

Since we’re talking about vacation days, we also have to touch on the subject of holidays. As I said earlier, my practice gives six paid holidays a year. Those holidays specifically are New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. When those holidays fall on a weekend – as they do this year – we usually take the following day off. However this created some issues. In the past, I had people who would call in sick to extend their holiday.

I was frustrated by this so I created a new policy. I told the staff that if they didn’t have approved vacation for the day before the holiday or the day after, they won’t get that holiday as a paid day of work. That cut the absences down to almost nil!

As part of that policy, I do allow people to have a paid day if they bring in a doctor’s note. We started this particular policy about three years ago, and despite a little push back, eventually everyone came around.

On today’s show I’ll also talk about what to do with accrued vacation, and why we prorate vacation days in our office now.

After you listen in, I’d love to hear from you! Email me or leave a comment here, let me know if you want a Facebook group for all the listeners of this show. And feel free to reach out with feedback and/or topics you’d like me to cover on this show! Thank you for tuning in and being a part of episode 53 of the Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “The biggest overhead we have is staffing.”

Episode Resources

The Dental Hacks Facebook group
Voices of Dentistry

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Approaching Fees For The Big Cases

Episode 052

How do you handle questions about fees on the big cases? This week I discuss this topic on a large implant case that we just completed. Have a listen to episode 52 of the Business of Dentistry podcast…

More About This Show

This past week was a super busy and interesting week in my office. We had multiple surgeries, including an all-day implant surgery. I wanted to talk to you about that case in particular.

The work that needed to be done for the patient carried a hefty price tag, it was an expensive surgery and restorative case. The average around here for a case like this one is $25k per arch, so a substantial amount of money is involved.

Prior to the procedure, the patient came in with her mom. I was there, of course, along with my implant treatment coordinator Meredith and Dr. Long who would be the restorative doctor on the case.

We all sat down with the patient and the patient’s mom to go over the case, answer their questions, review the treatment plan, as well as the fees and finances, and to talk about how all of this was going to play out. This was extremely beneficial for us and for the patient, I encourage you to do the same: have everyone in the same room prior to surgeries and procedures and have everyone’s questions answered in one sitting.

I leaned on Dr. Long to help answer restorative questions, and I was there to answer their surgical questions. My point is the entire team should be present to answer all of the patients questions as completely and fully as possible, prior to scheduling the procedure.

One piece of that conversation was the financial aspect. The surgical fee for this particular case was $27k, and we talked to the patient about it ahead of time. She made it easy for us and paid it upfront.

But we came in with options for her if she couldn’t pay the costs ahead of time. That’s also something I encourage you to do: figure out ahead of time what payment plan options you will offer your patient. That’s something to think about before you talk with the patient.

Based on my past experiences, I suggest you secure at least 50% before you do the procedure, and have a financial plan going forward for yourself and your patients for the remainder. You have to have a way for them to finance these procedures if they don’t pay upfront. Some practices offer in-house financing as an alternative, I do not.

In the past my office has used CareCredit. Some people prefer third-party financing, for example we have worked with American General, and Springfield Financial to name a few. You may have different options available to your practice.

Either way it’s important for your patients to have payment options for big procedures and for them to get the treatment they need, even if they don’t have the funds to pay in full upfront.

When I haven’t secured a substantial portion of the fees ahead of time, I have eaten a lot of costs for expensive procedures. Sometimes the patients simply stopped making payments after the work had already been done; so you want the patient to have some skin in the game before you get all the necessary equipment and pieces for their procedure.

I brought this up today because it was relevant and timely, but also because it’s a bit controversial. Some people believe doctors should not talk money, and should not talk about fees; they should delegate that to someone in the office.

Others believe the doctor should be able to look the patient in the eye comfortably and have a good idea of their fees, explain them and talk about them with their patients.

Listen in to hear why I’ve changed my philosophy on this today, and how I used to handle fees in the past as well as why I don’t do a hard sell with any case. Then let’s hear from you: how do you handle the fees and financing for big procedures? Shoot me an email and let me know, or leave a comment here after you listen to episode 51 of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Talk to the patient about the financial side of things.”

Episode Resources

Dr. Jon Alan Long on Business of Dentistry
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